Editor Name: Donald R Paul
Designation: Sr. Chair in Engineering
University: The University of Texas at Austin
Professor Paul’s research interests include the broad areas of polymer science and engineering and chemical engineering. Current research involves various aspects of polymeric materials including polymer blends; membranes for separations, drug delivery, packaging, etc.; polymer nanocomposites, multilayered polymer systems, and polymer processing. Our work in layered polymer systems is part of an NSF Science & Technology Center and is done in collaboration with Case Western Reserve University. The nanocomposite research deals with techniques for dispersing nanoparticles like clay, silica, etc. in polymers, characterization of the morphology of these mixtures, and evaluation of macroscopic and local properties. The research on diffusion in polymers involves investigation of structure-property relationships to design better membranes for separation processes and improved barrier materials plus an interest in theories and models for describing sorption and permeation of small molecule penetrants in polymers including the rubbery, glassy, semi-crystalline, and liquid crystalline states of these materials. A particular focus is on thin glassy polymers in the form of free-standing films or as thin layers in multilayer systems. Our group has an interest in the use of polymer membranes in modified atmosphere packaging. Synthesis, characterization, and performance of polymers are an integral part of the research in all these areas. All of these research topics have been integrated into Polymer Science courses at the University of Texas and a variety of short courses offered regularly to industry. Significant industrial collaboration is involved in most of this research.